Cost to replace a Honda Civic Engine?
August 18, 2005 7:06 AM   Subscribe

My 1996 Honda Civic LX (1.6L 4 Cylinders) has a problem in the bottom end of the engine. The mechanic says it's most likely going to need an engine replacement. I have 1000 miles left on my warranty that pays 50% labor and 50% parts. They said once all of the parts are compiled the labor can be done in about two days. What should I expect to be paying in this situation?

Additional information: Manual transmission, new timing belt, new water pump just installed. I live in Hampton Roads, VA.
posted by trey to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not to be snarky, but have you asked the mechanic? No one will be able to give you a better estimate than he will.
posted by chiababe at 7:30 AM on August 18, 2005

Response by poster: Well, the dealership is insisting on doing the work for the warranty (and the car is not currently at the dealership). The dealership was fairly tacit and said that they'd have to look at the car and make sure that an engine replacement was needed, etc. I'm just trying to ballpark it so I don't have to get a quote from the dealership without any background knowledge. This way, if they quote me something unreasonable, I can stand my ground a little firmer and offer a reasonable figure back.
posted by trey at 7:35 AM on August 18, 2005

I dunno any specifics, but my really ballpark answer is 'a lot.' The engine is the most expensive and complicated part of the car, and it is fairly labor intensive to replace. I've watched my Dad do it on old cars, and it isn't trivial.

I'd guess a few thousand for the engine and maybe a thousand or so for labor, but that's just a guess. I would think engines are fairly rarely replaced, both because it is so expensive the car is usually just junked, and because it is so rare to actually do something to an engine that the entire thing needs replacing.
posted by teece at 7:58 AM on August 18, 2005

Response by poster: It's actually very common (I've had it done in another car that was more complicated). The reason it's been so hard for me to find out anything with Google for this car is because most of the people switching engines in Civics are doing "swaps" and are trading their stock engine for a high-performance engine. The information gleaned from those web pages don't tell me very much since I don't want a high-performance engine and I won't be doing the labor myself.
posted by trey at 8:25 AM on August 18, 2005

My friend had to replace his Ford explorer engine and it cost him about $5000, but I'm not sure if that helps much. Your engine is probably not as expensive being smaller. Also he went with a brand new one over a slightly used model.
posted by meta87 at 8:51 AM on August 18, 2005

All the major parts stores sell engines as well, both new and rebuilt. You can get a price from them to get an idea about that bit. The engine swap, particularly at a dealer, will be priced according to their hourly labor rate (which they will tell you on the phone) and at the ASE time estimate for the job. Pull out your pocket calculator, multiply the two numbers together and have a friend apply CPR when you go into cardiac shock.

You should go ahead and call some independent shops and get a quote for that job from them. This 50% warrantee jazz could very well mean it's an even deal either way since the dealership's hourly rate will be higher and so will their part cost. It might be the same end cost either way and you may or may not feel like the dealership is better for the job. Personally I believe private mechanics are often more talented and senior but maybe you have a different position.

You should also consider whether this is a good use of funds. pulls up a blue book value on this car (assuming 85,000 miles) of about $4500. ATK Engines (not an endorsement, just my first google pick) lists a rebuilt engine for your vehicle at $2300. If your dealership charges $80 an hour and book time is 14 hours you're in for another $1120 (not counting shop fees and all the associated hoses and gaskets that'll get replaced too).

While that's less than $4500, it's not by much.
posted by phearlez at 9:05 AM on August 18, 2005

Best answer: Your 96 LX has a D16Y7 motor in it. That's the Honda motor code for the car. If all you need is a motor, not other drivetrain work (transmission, etc etc), you can score one on ebay for under $600, with anywhere from 40k to 60k miles on it. This generally includes compression and leakdown tests, and some kind of warranty. A new motor for an older car is usually hard to come by, and this is why they tend to cost an arm and a leg.

Labor for an engine swap is something I don't know anything about and can't comment on. If this were my car, I'd be buying a motor on ebay and swapping it in myself with the help of a few friends. This is not something you want to tackle yourself :-)

I'm pretty curious about what could have happened to this motor to require a complete replacement. It's not even ten years old, and Honda motors are pretty indestructible.
posted by autojack at 1:23 PM on August 18, 2005

autojack is right, look for a used motor. There are tons of used engine importers who buy directly from Japan. I've purchased used engines in the past through similar importers and had very, very good results.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:49 PM on August 18, 2005

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